Koreans start at the top. Or do they?

I woke up at 5:50. The air was clear for a change. Instead of being filled with the usual excitement that accompanies the excitement of a much needed run, I transferred my body from my bed to an armchair and snoozed for another hour or so. That preventative dose of TheraFlu last night really did a number on me!

Still, I managed my drag myself out of the embrace of my chair and into some running clothes. The run itself was a modest one (3.76 km, 23:02, 6’07″/km), but at least I gave myself the boost I needed to start my day with a clear head. Though saying I deserve congratulations may be going a bit far, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t proud of myself.

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Poster for a clearing out sale at Orange Factory, Suji-Gu, Yongin.

I took a photo of this poster during my run as proof of a tendency Koreans have. When English speakers express a numerical range, they tend to do so from the lowest to highest number (ex. I’ll be there in 10-15 minutes.). Shortly after coming to Korea, I noticed Koreans expressed such numerical ranges in reverse (ex. There are 50-40 students.).

When I pointed this out to a class of elementary school teachers many years ago, they said I was wrong and claimed to express ranges just like we do. No one seemed to know what I was talking about and even giggled at my erroneous recollection. But again and again, year after year, Koreans proved me right.

I offer Exhibit A above. I point out this tendency not as something to correct (unless, perhaps, when they’re speaking English) but as a mere observation.

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